A short video showing basic operation of the prototype race box can be viewed on YouTube
Complete with an LCD display to give the operator prompts and information, including countdown and elapsed race time, the box can be built for a very modest cost (less than £100 GBP) and provides outputs for an external horn and 3 lights, as well as local LED indicators.
The Documentation gives a detailed overview, User Manual and construction information.
The Race Control Box uses an Arduino (Genuino) Uno microcomputer plus a Relay Shield and LCD. The complete programs for the Arduino can be downloaded (as zip files) without charge from the “Program Code” page. There are extensive comments in the code if you wish to modify it for your own situation.
Why did I build it?
In 2011 I designed a “big brother” RMS (Race Management System) for use at my own sailing club Budworth Sailing Club, in the Northwest of England). It has been in regular use since 2012!
Visit the site and look at our results!
This is much more comprehensive and includes a “touch-screen” computer for fast SignOn to races, a separate computer in the Race Control Box for the Race officer, and a third computer with the database and web pages to display results.
The RMS stores the complete race programme for the year, handles automatic starting or “manual” races, scoring (low points or “Quen Mary”) and automatic publishng of results to web pages.
Several visitors to our club expressed interest in this “RMS system”. Sometimes they really liked the quick SignOn but did not want the “full thing”. Sometimes they were happy using sailwave for result entry and publication.
So based on the RMS experience (which also uses an Arduino micorcomputer to interface to Horn, Bell and Lights ) I decided the Portable RaceBox was an idea which clubs could adopt, was cheap and relatively easy to construct for someone with a little computer knowledge and modest ability with construction.
There are probably members in most clubs who could do this!
The Prototype RaceBox
Used to prove the concept, and constructed to include the Relay Shield and a small 9V battery, inside the splashproof ABS Box.